A tactic to ration urea, which is utilized for reducing carbon emissions in diesel cars and in various industries, is now being implemented by the South Korean government. Authorities there have also imposed a ban on reselling of the solution due to a severe shortage of the products and one that threatens to bring transportation and industries to a grinding halt.
According to a statement made by the country’s trade ministry, a 10-litre limit on purchase of urea has been imposed for passenger vehicle drivers while a maximum of 30 litres will be given to drivers of commercial vehicles. Along with this there will also be a complete ban on reselling urea. These measures will be in place till the end of the year.
In a statement issued on Thursday, the ministry said that all import, manufacturing, sale, and inventory data will have to be submitted to the government by the producers and dealers of the solution on a daily basis.
According to industry analysts, the government mandates that the additive be used by about two million diesel vehicles, predominantly freight trucks but also includes passenger vehicles.
All exports of the additive have been effectively prohibited with immediate effect.
Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyun, while speaking at a special cabinet meeting to review response to the issue, apologised for not being able to appropriately foresee the potential shortage which has now triggered a panic among drivers and vehicle owners resulting long queues at merchants who still had supply.
“I express my deepest apologies for causing such inconvenience and concerns,” he said, and added normalization of the situation will take some time.
There was panic buying of urea by diesel vehicle drivers in South Korea following implementation of a new export requirement last month by China’s customs authorities, which effectively resulted in in a ban on exports of the additive. The measure by China was taken to boost supply to the local market.
Between January and September, China supplied about 97 per cent of South Korea’s urea imports, according to the commerce ministry.
Earlier this week, efforts to ensure supplies have been frantically made by South Korea which included flying out a military oil tanker to Australia to get the additive, as well as expanding sourcing of the product from countries other than China, and trying to speed up urea imports from China. However, analysts believe that these are just temporary measures at best.
There was a skyrocketing of demand for face masks in South Korea last year during the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic when there was a rise in infections and cases and similar measures which forced the central government to interfere in manufacture and distribution of masks were implemented.
In order to alleviate the shortfall and prevent stockpiling of face masks last year, South Korea had temporarily restricted the export of face masks and limited individual sales.
(Adapted from ChannelNewsAsia.com)